Agriculture

Environment
10:53 am
Tue February 11, 2014

In The Central Valley, Farmworkers Worry That No Water Means No Work

When there's no work in the Central Valley's fields, farmworkers gather at the Westside Pool Hall in Mendota.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

When farmworker Jose Gonzalez Cardenas can’t find work, he heads to the Westside Pool Hall in Mendota. Planting has hardly begun in the Central Valley, but everyone here is talking about the state’s drought, and what it could mean for the growing season.

“If there’s no water, we’re not going to have work,” Gonzalez says in Spanish.

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Drought
7:52 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Total California Water Storage Near Decade Low

Friant Dam (file photo)
Credit State Department of Water Resources

The Sacramento and San Joaquin River Basins are experiencing the steepest drop in water storage in nearly a decade. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, a new study looked at all water storage in the basins, including snow, surface water, soil moisture and groundwater.

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Drought
11:25 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Valley Farmers Fallow Fields, Drill Wells, Auction Water To Cope With Drought

The Delta Mendota Canal is used to bring water to thousands of acres of valley farmland in a normal year (file photo)
Credit www.usbr.gov

Last Friday, the State Water Project took the unprecedented step of cutting projected water allocations for its contractors to zero. And other water users, including those who get supplies from the federal Central Valley Project are expecting severe cuts of their own. 

The drought has prompted many farmers to fallow their fields, and growers of permanent crops like almonds, grapes and pistachios are scrambling to find backup supplies to keep their trees and vines alive this year. 

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Environment
9:08 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Voices Of The Drought: Small Farmer Chia Lee

Chia Lee and his brother, Teng Lee, are concerned about the drought's impact on their Parlier farm.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

Starting this week, Valley Public Radio will share an occasional series, called Voices of the Drought. First up, is the story of small farmer Chia Lee.

Back in Laos, Chia Lee grew rice and corn on a mountainside. He never worried about rain there.

“We’re waiting for the monsoon rain in Laos, once a year, so we don’t worry about anything,” Lee says.

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Drought
6:43 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Westside Growers Will Get To Keep Last Year's Banked Water

Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) speaks to the media today about California's drought
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Westside farmers who banked excess water last year in San Luis Reservoir anticipating a drought won't have to give it up, according to an announcement today from the US Bureau of Reclamation. 

The farmers had faced the threat of losing that water to other farmers who hold senior water rights, such as the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors. 

The Bureau was facing political bipartisan political pressure against reallocating the water. But the move could leave the door open to lawsuits. 

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Drought
11:26 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Drought Forces California Ranchers To Make Tough Decisions

One of about 400 head of cattle owned by Jim Gates of Nevada County Free Range Beef
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

California’s ranchers depend on fall and winter rains to keep grasses growing for their livestock. But the state’s drought is forcing them to make tough decisions. With rangelands dry statewide, moving herds isn’t an option. Many are resorting to buying feed, but its rising cost is making that choice difficult. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, some ranchers must decide whether to sell their livestock or go out of business. 

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Drought
5:08 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Boehner, Valley GOP Representatives Call For Drought Relief

House Speaker John Boehner is calling for emergency legislation in response to California's drought
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

Valley congressional leaders and House Speaker John Boehner met in a dusty cotton field outside Bakersfield today to announce a plan for emergency legislation in response to California’s drought.

Boehner, who was joined by valley Republicans Devin Nunes, David Valadao and Kevin McCarthy told the crowd that the water shortage requires action, and blamed environmental laws for part of the problem.

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Water
5:48 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Urge Water Bond and Drought Declaration

State Senator Anthony Canella speaks at a rally on the State Capitol steps on Thursday.
Credit Twitter account of Senator Anthony Canella / http://twitter.com/AnthonyCannella

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, farmers and farm workers gathered on the Capitol steps today to call on California Governor Jerry Brown to declare a drought.

The Latino Water Coalition also wants to see legislation that would put a water bond on the 2014 ballot. Supporters say the state is experiencing some of the driest conditions on record, and farmers livelihoods are at stake.

Republican State Senator Anthony Canella from the Central Valley says increased water storage should be part of the water bond package.

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Water
5:47 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Patterson Calls For Halt To San Joaquin River Restoration Releases

Water is released from Friant Dam near Fresno into the San Joaquin River as part of the river restoration program (file photo)
Credit San Joaquin River Restoration Program

Citing a historically dry 2013, Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) is calling for the federal government to stop water releases from Friant Dam for the San Joaquin River Restoration program.

Since 2009 the restoration program has released water into the river on an interim basis in an effort to bring back salmon populations to a stretch of the channel that has been dry for decades. The restoration agreement calls for those flows to become permanent in 2014.

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Water
4:32 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

California Water Officials Say Drought Proclamation Likely

DWR Director Mark Cowin and DWR’s Drought Preparedness Manager Bill Croyle highlight the importance of water transfers and drought preparedness during the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Board Meeting in Sacramento on January 7.
Credit Paul Hames / Department of Water Resources

The Director of the California Department of Water Resources says he believes Governor Jerry Brown will likely declare a drought. Mark Cowin  made the comments to the state Board of Food and Agriculture today.

Water managers painted a bleak picture for the board of the dry conditions and low reservoir levels around the state. Cowin says all signs point to a drought.

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Water
5:00 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

First Snow Survey Of 2014 Just 20 Percent Of Average

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California's first snow survey of the winter is showing grim results for a state that's already reeling from a two-year dry spell. 

The State's Department of Water Resources says both manual and electronic readings today were about 20 percent of average for this time of year. In some cases surveyors found more bare ground than snow. 

In the Southern Sierra, the snowpack was a little better at 30 percent of average for the start of January, but just 10 percent of the April 1 season average.

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Environment
5:06 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

San Joaquin River Restoration Hits Snags

Friant Dam's construction in the 1940's dried up 60 miles of the San Joaquin River
State Department of Water Resources

It’s been almost eight years since the US Bureau of Reclamation began its program to restore the San Joaquin River. In the 1940’s Friant Dam and irrigation diversion dried up 60 miles of California’s second largest river. Historic salmon runs disappeared. This January is the deadline for the program to restore enough water to the San Joaquin to eventually allow runs of Chinook salmon. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the restoration program has been plagued by delays and increased costs.

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Agriculture
11:58 am
Tue December 17, 2013

'Revolution' In California Winemaking Celebrated In New Book

Jon Bonné is the wine editor of the San Francisco Chronicle
Ten Speed Press

For years California winemakers have earned their reputation by producing big, bold wines, often known as "fruit bombs." They've also effectively used science and technological advances to make the state a global behemoth in the worldwide industry.

But there’s also something else going on in California -  a new generation of winemakers who are looking to old world traditions for their inspiration, and in the process are creating something truly unique.

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Environment
11:49 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Author Interview: Jared Farmer "Trees In Paradise"

California has more trees now than at any time since the late Pleistocene. And it comes as no surprise to residents of the San Joaquin Valley that our cultivation of trees has played a defining role in shaping the California we know today.

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Environment
5:24 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Feds Study Expanding San Luis Reservoir

Intake towers at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County would be raised under a new proposal by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos could see its storage capacity grow by over 6 percent, according to a new study on the feasibility of expanding the lake released by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

According to the draft report, a 20 foot increase in the height of the B.F. Sisk dam would result in 130,000 acre feet of additional water storage capacity. For comparison, that increase would be equal to about a quarter of the total capacity of Friant Dam near Fresno.

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Government & Politics
4:35 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

California Lawmakers Want Amendment to Farm Bill Removed

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

An amendment to the U.S. House version of the federal Farm Bill has upset a bipartisan group of California lawmakers. As Capital Public Radio’s Amy Quinton reports, they’ve written a letter to House leaders calling for its removal.

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Water
12:26 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Jim Costa Calls On Governor Brown To Issue Drought Declaration For California

Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno)
Credit Congress.gov

With forecasts pointing to the third dry year in a row, one Central Valley congressman is calling on the governor to take emergency action to secure more water for valley farmers. FM89's Joe Moore reports.

Speaking on Valley Public Radio's Valley Edition, Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) says that California water users are facing possibly their biggest shortage in over three decades.

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Environment
6:29 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

That Sinking Feeling: Valley Land Subsidence Poses Problems for Water, High Speed Rail

The Delta Mendota Canal
www.usbr.gov

The U.S. Geological Survey released a study today showing that large groundwater withdrawals are causing land in California’s Central Valley to sink. A 1,200 square mile area is sinking up to a foot a year in some places. The situation has become so serious that it’s threatening flood control and water deliveries. The proposed high speed rail system will also have deal with the changing terrain. But Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, finding a solution won’t be easy.

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Environment
6:43 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

California's Demand for Water May Far Exceed Supply in 2014

San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos
Credit CA Dept of Water Resources

Californians may have to be more cautious with their water use in the coming year. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, initial projections indicate there won’t be much to go around.

The Department of Water Resources says it will only be able to initially fulfill five percent of requested water deliveries in 2014. Every year water agencies throughout California request water through the State Water Project. More than 25 million people and 700 thousand acres of farmland depend on the supply.

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Environment
12:11 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Peter Gleick: We Need To Know More About Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Peter Gleick is president of the Pacific Institute and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Credit Courtesy Peter Gleick

Peter Gleick is one of California's leading water experts. In an op-ed piece recently published in the Sacramento Bee, Gleick  criticized the draft of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan for what he calls a lack of specificity.

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